Most pregnant women will at some point feel a little more like a beached whale than they’d care to think.
But while how you feel about yourself while pregnant is fair game for jokes, something that doesn’t fly is when other people launch into open season on your changing looks. So when viewers began body-shaming meteorologist Katie Fehlinger for her growing pregnant belly, Fehlinger coolly shut down their crude comments. In response to Internet commenters who had referred to her as a “sausage in casing” and who told her that “sticking your pregnant abdomen out like that is disgusting,” Fehlinger took to her Facebook page to write an epic takedown of those with lots of opinions and not much in the way of manners.
Fehlinger, who is carrying twin girls, responded with a lot more patience than I think I could have mustered during my twin pregnancy. She takes the time to reassure other women to not concern themselves with ugly words like these, then goes on to address those making these unkind comments. She wonders, in particular, who would think that pregnant women should be more concerned with looking appealingly thin for a TV audience than with having healthy babies?
“Frankly, I don’t care how ‘terrible’ or ‘inappropriate’ anyone thinks I look. I will gladly gain 50 pounds & suffer sleepless, uncomfortable nights if it means upping my chances to deliver 2 healthy baby girls. Now it’s about more than aesthetics. I want these babies to have the best start possible. And that hopefully means my belly that ‘looks like it’s about to explode!’ will continue to grow the next few weeks. … In the meantime, let’s all remember the lesson Mom taught us — if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.”
Fehlinger’s experience in having these horrible words hurled at her won’t be anything shocking or familiar to many women. For some reason, women’s bodies seem to be viewed by much of the world (men and other women alike) as public property. Pregnant women might be more susceptible to this treatment than anyone else, judging by the number of times perfect strangers will come up and attempt to feel a swollen belly or offer unwanted advice or even judgment. Are you too fat? Too thin? Too tired-looking? If you’re pregnant, don’t worry — someone will probably let you know what they think about the way you look, whether you like it or not.
More: Pregnant model skinny-shamed because her belly is ‘too small’
Women don’t, however, exist for public consumption, and anyone who has thoughts to the contrary can feel free to keep those thoughts to themselves. That includes on the Internet, where if you are more than 13 years old, you should be able to stop the heady combination of anonymity and freedom from making you write whatever garbage comes into your head. Before telling a women you think she looks fat, in person or online, I suggest taking a walk around the block to calm down. And while you’re out, please drop off your computer in the Dumpster, where it belongs.
If you find yourself the subject of such nasty scrutiny, you could certainly be forgiven for not being as calm and articulate in response as Fehlinger managed to be. But it doesn’t hurt to have a prepared response or two up your sleeve for when someone shocks you with a rudeness bomb. You can respond with sarcasm (“Oh my God, I’m fat? Is that why my pants don’t fit anymore?”) or by highlighting the total irrelevancy of the other person’s opinion (“Sorry, I can’t talk to you anymore until my insurance tells me whether it’ll cover the cost of your medical consultation”). Or if you’re not sure you can handle being articulate in anger, you can always try the classic of a cold, wordless stare or simply turning your back and walking away.
Of course, you shouldn’t have to be in the position to have to issue a response to such a comment in the first place! But in the meantime, since people are going to be jerks about the bodies of women, you might as well do what makes you feel good. Someone has to care about your well-being! And that someone certainly isn’t going to be the people reminding you that you’re fatter now that you’re pregnant.